Tag: samon nathan

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the ANZ Premiership sees five matches over the course of the weekend with the Magic, Stars and Tactix all taking the court twice. There are a couple of identical clashes from Round 4 with some teams hoping history does not repeat itself. The Pulse will be eager to maintain their unblemished start to 2020 while the Magic will be wanting to go one step better than last round and collect their second win to climb up the ladder.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Friday, 10 July

A fourth quarter demolition gifted Central Pulse the win over the Steel last round, however the Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing, going toe-to-toe with their opponents for three quarters. Shooting at 100 per cent for the match, the Pulse goalers were on song sinking them from everywhere – something the Steel will really have to double down on this round if they are any chance to knock the Pulse off their perch.

It is fair to say that the battle in the goal circle was won by Ameliaranne Ekenasio with the star goal attack taking ownership and dominating with 25 goals from 25 attempts. Last round, Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita gave all their attention to Aliyah Dunn under the post and while the towering goal shooter was down on her usual volume sitting at 21 goals at 100 per cent, it allowed for Ekenasio to dictate the terms out the front. Fifita and Selby-Rickit are both strong prospects in the defensive circle with their physicality, hands over pressure and quick footwork but Abby Erwood should not be forgotten about and could be another option to come on for the Steel and upset the Pulse attacking duo with her tagging style of play. Heading into their second clash in less than seven days the Steel will be keen to rectify those issues in defence and shut down Ekenasio more effectively if they are to come out on top. While the combination between Ekenasio and Dunn is commanding to say the least youngster Tiana Metuarau is also proving to be a handful for the opposition whether it be in goal attack or wing attach with her silky movement, precise ball placement and netball nous.

Defensively the Pulse are stacked with Kelly Jury having the time of her life down back. The goal keeper has starred in recent weeks with her hunt for the ball, long arms and skill to contest the aerial ball. She really shut down Jennifer O’Connell in Round 4 with the goal shooter only managing 27 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent and denied any easy access into the goal circle. The influence of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger is also a key aspect to the Pulse defence with Rore putting in a wealth of work out the front to shut down the goal attack entering the goal circle and Burger nullifying the wing attack with her with arms over pressure and commanding height. Goal attack Kalifa McCollin will have to get busy for the Steel if she is to occupy Rore while Gina Crampton had Burger’s number for the majority of their last encounter using her speed and strength to tussle for prime position around circle edge.

It could be a case of history repeating itself with the Pulse in ripping form with their impressive ball movement, strong connections and ability to withstand the waves of pressure.

Southern Steel v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 11 July

In their second game of the round the Steel will be hoping to keep the winning streak against the Stars alive, getting the wood over them earlier in the season, albeit by just two goals. Both teams are evenly poised and match-up similarly headlined by a tall holding goal shooter and experienced midcourt.

The contest between the Northern Stars captain, Grace Kara and youngster Kate Heffernan will draw plenty of attention. Kara is a real lynchpin for the Stars in attack, providing that link into the goal circle with her effortless and perfectly weighted passes. She also does a wealth of work at the centre pass to ease the pressure on her shooters, meaning it will up to Heffernan to get in her head and stop her. Although still developing her craft, Heffernan is quick on her feet and can apply strong hands over pressure to block Kara’s vision into the circle. Another option in wing defence for the Stars is Kendall Corkery with the midcourter renowned for her niggly, physical style which can get under the skin of opponents. Expect veteran, Shannon Saunders to lead the midcourt cohort for the Steel especially up against 22-year-old Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Saunders can run all day in centre and use her smarts to outwit Reuelu-Buchanan who is still honing her craft.

If the Stars are to register another win for the season, Maia Wilson will have to be on her game from the opening whistle. The goal shooter is a commanding presence under the post and has increased her range throughout 2020, looking more comfortable from further out. Her high volume of shots however puts a target on her back with the likes of Fifita, Selby-Rickit and Erwood likely to work in overdrive to smother her, meaning it will be up to Jamie Hume to take the load off Wilson. Hume will be hoping to put out a consistent four quarter performance against the Steel to really assert herself on the competition and take the heat off Wilson under the post, with her cleverly timed drives, long range shooting and play making abilities.

If the Steel can shut down the likes of Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge and limit their chance to feed into Wilson it will put them in good stead to collect another win.

Northern Stars v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 12 July

After playing out the first draw in ANZ Premiership history the Stars will be eager to put that to bed and claim the “W”. The Magic came from seven goals behind last round to finish strongly and clench a draw and will be keen to go one better this round.

The Stars will be hoping to make amends for their fourth quarter slump and run out a consistent performance this round with the defensive duo renowned for their balling winning abilities. One of the more experienced defenders in the group, Storm Purvis can change the course of a game in an instance with her leap and deceptive speed to dart around the court and force turnovers. Teammate Kate Burley has blossomed into a commanding prospect in the goal circle with her tenacity, often throwing herself at every contest and creating doubt in the feeders minds while Oceane Maihi is able to inject plenty of height and aerial presence, something the Stars might need in order to contend with Kelsey McPhee at the post. The goal shooter can suffer from the yips at times under the post, but when she is on song she is hard to stop credit to her strong hands, quick footwork and clever body positioning. The influence of Abigail Latu-Meafou will be crucial if the Magic are to replicate their Round 4 performance or notch up a win with the goal attack showcasing her accuracy to post, smooth movement and skill to slot them from range. A cameo appearance from youngster Khiarna Williams could also work wonders for the Magic in order to offset the Stars defence.

Through the midcourt the Stars boast some exciting players with Fa’amu Ioane one of the most electric wing defences in the competition, with her speed off the mark and quick hands. Her presence around circle edge and in the defensive third allows her to gobble up turnover ball and spring into transition. The versatility of Lisa Mather is another key for the Stars able to swing from wing defence into centre when needed. For the Magic, Whitney Souness is a real powerhouse able to deliver the ball with great pace and precision to catch defenders off guard while Ariana Cable-Dixon is reliable through centre.

This game could once again go down to the wire but expect the Stars to have learnt from their mistakes last round and impose themselves for a full four quarters.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 12 July

Playing only nine days earlier both sides would have taken plenty out of their match-up when it comes to one-on-ones and overall team strategy. A quick start from the Tactix gave them the early ascendancy before the Mystics rallied and wrestled back the momentum to win the next three quarters. With this in mind expect the Tactix to come out with a real fire in the belly and increased intensity.

Shooting prodigy Grace Nweke is relishing every single minute of court time with the 18-year-old dominating in all facets such as volume and accuracy. She is simply unstoppable under the post using her 193cm frame to ward off defenders and dictate the space. Her aerial presence is second to none while her balance is equally impressive. Goal attack Saviour Tui is growing with confidence, not afraid to look to the post while Asher Grapes is constantly able to find space and create attacking forays. Up against some stiff opposition in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson the Mystics goalers will once again have to be on their A-game. Fakahokotau impressed last week with her hunt for the ball, vision and quick footwork while Watson is renowned for her cleanliness and lean over the shot. If both defenders can work in tandem to minimise the influence of Nweke and win ball back it will be a huge bonus for the Tactix.

Wing attack Peta Toeava is the real barometer for the Mystics with her turn of speed and sheer ball placement. Toeava only needs a second to look into the goal circle and deliver a pinpoint pass into Nweke under the post such is her vision, understanding and connection with the goaler. It will be up to Charlotte Elley to limit her influence around circle edge and apply strong hands over pressure given Toeava’s shorter stature. The battle in centre will also be interesting with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi donning very similar styles. Earle has been really dominating for the Mystics with her high level of endurance and energetic style of play, helping out both in offence and defence. Poi plays a more defensive role with her strong hands over pressure and three foot marking, allowing her wing attacks to do the heavy lifting in attack.

It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can generate enough turnover ball and restrict Nweke under the post or if Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka can shut down the Tactix shooting end once more.

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 13 July

In the final game of the round, fatigue could be a key element for both sides as they enter their second game. The last time these two sides met it was the Tactix that got the win by nine goals but the Magic have come along in leaps and bounds since Round 3 with their on court connections strengthening.

Boasting an impressive shooting combination in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird the Tactix will be hoping to take advantage of the tall goaler and apply some real scoreboard pressure. Down on their accuracy last round expect both shooters to come out with a real intensity. It is unlikely for Selby-Rickit to have two quiet games in a row given her class and ability to spark back into action. The goal attack is a key cog in attack with her play making abilities often bringing Bird into the game with her well executed passes. However the tussle in the goal circle will be extremely physical as Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere is not afraid to contest every ball that comes her way. Mikaere’s aerial presence is impressive and so too is Georgia Tong, with the two able to swat away balls with ease. Holly Fowler is another one to keep an eye out for in the Magic defence unit with her ability to read the play and take a key intercept at any given moment.

With a game saving intercept under her belt, Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders is a real barometer for her side. she is able to spark the Magic into action with her constant effort around the court to create a tip and then transition into attack. Her ability to seamlessly switch from wing defence to centre is second to none able to shake up the course of a game. Winders will have to be on her game from the opening whistle with Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan both clever in their movement and strong around circle edge for the Tactix in attack.

To stay in touch with the top of the pack, the Tactix have to win this clash so expect them to pull out all the stops and assert themselves from the get-go against an inconsistent Magic side.

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 3

AFTER an action packed return of netball, teams will be eager to prove that it was not a one off with strong showings in Round 3. The Steel and Magic will both play two games this round with the remainder only taking part in the one game. Arguably the game of the round will be between the two unbeaten teams on Monday with Pulse and Mystics set to go to head to head. 

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Friday, 26 June

Sitting on a win apiece heading into the round both teams will be searching for some consistency and more importantly their second win of the season. The Tactix had an up and down performance last round, struck down by a tummy bug in their second game which well and truly showed while the Magic simply could not generate enough accuracy to post to worry their opposition. 

With a stacked defensive end the Tactix will be hoping to use their physicality and ball winning abilities to stop the Magic from getting close to post. Copping a knock on her knee early in the last game, all eyes will turn to Jane Watson with the captain a real lynchpin for the Tactix as she can take huge game changing intercepts. After a hot start Temalisi Fakahokotau faded out of the game last round but will be wanting to showcase her prowess once again with her intercepting skills, leap and pressure over the shot to ruffle the feathers of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou. The Magic shooters while they had plenty of opportunities struggled to convert and will have their work cut out for them again this round given the immense pressure Fakahokotau and Watson are renowned for.  

The midcourt battle will be another point of interest given the depth and speed that the Tactix have. Kimiora Poi is lightning quick in at centre, able to dart around the court and facilitate that second phase play for her side while also getting back and applying defensive pressure. Wing attack Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen also pose a threat for the Magic with their ability to come on and have an immediate impact with their quick ball movement, strength around circle edge and pin point precision passes into the circle. It will be up to Magic captain Sam Winders to really lead the midcourt with her defensive pressure, skill to clog up space and ability to keep her opposition off circle edge. In attack it will be up to Whitney Souness and Ariana Cable-Dixon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Latu-Meafou and McPhee. 

It will be a tight battle between both sides but if the Tactix are at full strength they should be able to get the job done given the extra experience they have across the court both in attack and defence. 

Northern Mystics v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 27 June

Yet to register a win this season the Steel will be hoping to unlock something in their match-up against the Mystics and get their first “W” on the board. Meanwhile the Mystics will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact and notch up their third victory for the season after another impressive outing in Round 2.

With a developing attacking unit the Steel will have to be on their a-game if they are any chance to topple the Mystics. Kalifa McCollin proved to be a real pocket last round and has speed to boot, zipping around the attacking third and creating plays with her flair. The Trinidad and Tobago recruit is not afraid to go to post backing herself from anywhere in the circle and can adapt her game style to suit her fellow goalers. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is still working on her craft but has the potential to come on and have an impact with her athletic style of play and accuracy. While goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell is renowned for her holding shooter role and ability to score quickly and easily, something she will be hoping to capitalise on up against the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka. The Mystics defenders are a formidable unit that can pick off passes with ease and use their quick footwork to maneuver around the body of their opponents and create timely deflections. Fitzpatrick is a strong driving force down back with her hands over pressure and aerial ability while Karaka is key through the midcourt. 

After starring in Round with her pace, strength and ball delivery Peta Toeava will be one to watch for the Steel. The Mystics wing attack is a key cog using her balance, impressive vision and variety of passes to seamlessly deliver the ball into the goal circle. Toeava is quick on her feet and strong around the circle edge to demand the ball and dish off well-weighted passes. Fellow midcourter and centre Tayla Earle also starred last week and will be hoping to replicate that form with her defensive pressure to force turnovers and pick off intercepts for the Mystics. Her battle with Shannon Saunders will generate plenty of interest given just how damaging Saunders can be with ball in hand. Her experience, speed and vision is second to none while her connection with Gina Crampton is exceptional. The two know each others game inside out making them extremely difficult to combat given their read of the play and space, stamina and general netball nous. 

Vying for their first win of the season, expect the Steel to throw everything they have at the Mystics in hope of securing that elusive victory. However the Mystics have proven that they have the firepower to withstand challenges and can use their defensive pressure to win ball back and create scoring opportunities. 

Northern Stars v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 28 June

In Steel’s second game of the round the element of fatigue could play a huge factor up against a developing Stars unit who will be still riding that winning wave after downing the Tactix in Round 2. It will be the first time these two sides have met since the final last year where the Stars bundled the Steel out of grand final contention, so expect plenty of feeling in this game. With young players on both sides it will be up to the experienced heads to lead the way and forge a way forward for their team to win. 

The tussle in the goal circle for the Stars will be exciting with Maia Wilson a commanding presence under the post as her strong holds and accuracy to post is hard to combat. Wilson is able to read the play with ease and use her feet to move to the ball or create space in the circle. Still developing her partnership with Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto it will be up to Wilson to shoulder a lot of the scoring load but will have her work cut out for her against Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, Taneisha Fifita and Abby Erwood. Fifita is a real livewire down in defence renowned for her spring in her step and skill to cause confusion with her quick footwork while both Selby-Rickit and Erwood ooze consistency.

Coming off a relatively disappointing outing expect O’Connell to come back with a vengeance and assert herself with her scoring ability. O’Connell can hit the scoreboard quickly and easily given her height and clever body positioning to ward off defenders. Partner in crime, McCollin is the playmaker for the Steel in the goal circle using her turn of speed and spatial awareness to full effect. But Stars defenders Storm Purvis and Kate Burley are no easy beats with the two strong in the air and able to swat away their fair share of ball. Burley impressed last round with her smothering style of play and skill to switch into transition with ease while Storm showcased her skillset to seamlessly push out to goal defence. Another prominent threat for the Stars is the inclusion of Oceane Maihi who is a serious competitor in the air given her leap and strong hands. 

Potentially still on the hunt for their first win the Steel will be eager to secure a win but come up against a strong unit, in the Stars who will be raring to go. With key players across the Stars are in the box seat heading into the contest having already notched up a win. 

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Monday, 29 June

In what could be a battle of the two undefeated teams the clash between the Pulse and Mystics will be one of youth and experience. There is no denying that the Pulse are the team to beat, once again announcing themselves as a powerhouse of the competition last round while the Mystics continue to showcase their composure and pressure each time they step out on court. There will be all-star match ups across the court with both teams littered with Silver Ferns stars making for an intriguing contest.

Young talent Grace Nweke has continued to take the competition by storm, letting her goal scoring do all the talking. Hardly ever out positioned, Nweke is a staple hold for the Mystics under the post with her commanding figure, aerial strength, read of the play and sheer dominance, but could meet her match in fellow youngster Kelly Jury. The Pulse goal keeper really hit her straps last round with her quick footwork, long limbs, lean over the shot and skill to get hands to ball. Throw in defensive comrades in Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse are incredibly difficult to match-up on given their ability to shut down space, hunt the ball and suffocate attacking forays. While Nweke is the go to girl for the Mystics the likes of Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui will have to up their output if they are to draw away the defence from Nweke and apply some serious scoreboard pressure. 

Moving down into the defensive end for the Mystics and they too have no shortage of fire power with Fitzpatrick and Karaka. Up against her old side, Fitzpatrick will be desperate to have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure, physicality under the post and intercepting ability. Directly opposed to Pulse goal shooter Aliyah Dunn, Fitzpatrick will have to be on her a-game to stop the high ball release into her with Dunn renowned for her height, ability to reel ball in and nifty footwork along the baseline to hold space. Goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another huge obstacle for the Mystics defensive unit to conquer with the Silver Ferns goaler in impressive form. Her vision is exceptional, able to see two passes ahead, while her ball placement, turn of speed and strong drives into the circle is second to none. Throw in the fact Ekenasio can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle and is cool, calm and composed with ball in hand and the Pulse are in a commanding position.

With star power across the court and tried and tested combinations the Pulse should reign supreme but the Mystics definitely have the players to cause an upset given their defensive pressure.

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Tactix topple Steel in the Southern Derby

AS the rest of the netball world looked on in envy, the ANZ Premiership once again displayed why their domestic league has produced some of the best talent on the planet. Much like the first game back after the break, the matchup between Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel lived up to the hype. It was a smothering defensive display from the Tactix and they certainly laid out their intentions for the season ahead thanks to a 43-36 triumph. 

Going into the game there were a few key matchups to note. Firstly, the tussle between World Cup Champion Shannon Saunders and zippy youngster Kimiora Poi. These two never gave each other an inch, both of them having a point to prove being at opposite ends of their netball career. Another hotly anticipated contest was the Selby-Rickit sisters, facing off against each other on opposing teams for the first time since 2015. Another Silver Fern with a reputation to uphold was the formidable Jane Watson, and she did just that against Trinidadian import, Kalifa McCollin. Watson has to be by far one of the most infuriating defenders in the game to play against, up there with Karla Pretorious, stealing balls for fun and disrupting play left, right and centre. She plays formidably at goal defence, that extra third giving her even more opportunities to cause chaos.

From the moment the toy car delivered the ball and Steel took the first centre pass, the pressure was on. Watson managed a steal after just one minute of play, and the battle between the Selby-Rickit sisters playing at goal attack and goal defense was very willing. The Tactix managed to exploit the height of their goaling duo in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird, with Selby-Rickit shooting long bombs and oozing confidence from the outset. During the first quarter the Tactix had the opportunity to mount a sizeable lead but the Steel showed their grit and weren’t going down without a fight. Both teams opened the game by playing with real freedom and being totally fearless to let the ball go. After the first quarter the Tactix had their noses in front, leading the Steel by 12 goals to 11.

Southern Steel came out of the blocks with a fire in the belly for the second quarter, with McCollin’s cut and drives carving up the attack end and creating endless options – she actually ended up shooting more goals than Jennifer O’Connell in the first half. They started to really find flow in attack and ended up winning the quarter by one goal. Tactix showed great hustle, and were always first to a loose ball, backing this up with amazing vision into the circle, sometimes even from way back in the centre third. Watson’s “Mr Tickle” arms were causing a real mess for the Steel midcourt, and she combined with Temalisi Fakahokotau to form a ferocious defensive partnership. The sides ended the first half all tied up at 20 goals apiece, with both teams demonstrating real ease and flow in their play. 

Poi and Saunders kept each other busy in the midcourt, with Saunders’ ability to transition swiftly from attack to defense providing a good test for Poi’s speed and agility. Poi appeared determined to keep the ball alive at any cost and displayed some incredible acrobatics to do so. She looked like she was having an absolute day out and relishing the chance to match up against the experienced Saunders.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit silenced any potential critics about her shooting accuracy, remaining on 100 per cent at half-time and only missing two shots in the whole game, despite often shooting from range. With Noeline Taurua as assistant coach, the Tactix probably never really felt they were going to lose. Erikana Pedersen came on at wing attack after half-time and spurred on the Tactix to a deadly championship quarter. While both teams were heavily penalised, the Tactix managed to gain momentum in the third quarter, limiting the Steel to just seven goals. 

Wholesale changes in the fourth quarter for Steel gave them a chance to claw the score back, but the Tactix had their tails up after smashing the third quarter and the Steel ran out of time to make a comeback. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit moved back to goal keeper for the Steel with Abbey Erwood coming on in goal defence. At the other end, McCollin went into goal shooter and Georgia Heffernan slotted into goal attack, meaning there were two pairs of netball sisters on court during the final 12. For the Tactix, Bird’s shooting percentage started to dip, most likely due to the style of the physical Te Huinga Selby-Rickit. A held ball on the centre pass for the Steel added insult to injury and allowed the Tactix to pull away further. Unforced errors started to creep in for both teams, possibly due to fatigue setting in – something we may see a little more of with teams playing two games per weekend. There were also several attacking contacts from both goal shooters and Bird in particular got frustrated by the Steel defenders and ended up with two attacking contacts in a row. 

Tactix were ferocious, however both teams showed amazing vision, athleticism and slick play proving they are no worse for the break. As the Tactix started to relax in the final period, the Steel managed to notch up five in a row in what looked like the beginning of a comeback. However it was too little too late after their disappointing third quarter. After drawing the first half, the second half was 23-16 to the Tactix, meaning the final score was 43-36. The Tactix side were able to get early depth on the centre pass and have multiple options to ball, with Bird on a strong hold in the circle and Selby-Rickit setting up the attack end with ease. Both teams ended up fairly even across the board when it comes to penalties and turnovers, but the Tactix were able to pick up seven intercepts to the Steel’s two, and the large majority of rebounds to boot. 

The Tactix will have to maintain their enthusiasm and tenacity when they come up against the Stars on Monday, and the Steel can have another chance to notch up their first win of the season against the Mystics next weekend.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

MAINLAND TACTIX

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Samon Nathan
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

SOUTHERN STEEL

GS: Jennifer O’Connell
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

ANZ Premiership preview: Round 2 – Netball returns along with a grand final rematch

THE highly anticipated return of the ANZ Premiership kicks off on Friday. After an interrupted start to the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent two month hiatus expect all six teams to come out firing, with a grand final rematch headlining the return to netball. 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 19 June 

The first cab off the ranks sees the Magic and Mystics face off with both teams hoping to make it two on the trot and maintain their unbeaten start to 2020. Magic showcased their defensive ability in Round 1 while also proving to have the answers in attack while the Northern Mystics also proved that they had plenty of depth and talent across the court to mix it with the best. Both teams only play one game this round so expect them to leave nothing to chance and put on a spectacle. 

The battle under the post is where all the excitement lies for the Mystics both defensively and offensively. With Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a patella injury, the load falls to the three teenage shooting prodigies in Grace Nweke, Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui. Nweke took the competition by storm last year and will once again have her work cut out for her given her commanding style of play. She is accurate to post and can shoulder the load under the post while Tui played a starring role in their Round 1 outing. New to the attack end is Grapes with the youngster looking to have an impact with her drive to post and silky movement. But it will be no easy feat for the Mystics who are still working out their connections. Led by Erena Mikaere, the Magic will be hoping to exploit those connections and create plenty of turnover ball. Alongside Mikaere expect the likes of Holly Fowler and Jennifer O’Sullivan to be on the prowl, searching for an intercept or deflection of some type. Magic captain Sam Winders will have to put her defensively minded game play to work in order to stop the explosiveness of Peta Toeava who is a strong asset around circle edge given her experience. 

Defensively the Mystics also have some firepower with both Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick. The two are known for their defensive prowess, ability to read the play, quick footwork and speed off the mark. Although only in their second game together expect the duo to try and get in the heads of the Magic shooters and put them off their game with their lean over the shot and physical style. The shooting end for the Magic may look slightly different with Georgia Marshall stuck in Australia due to the COVID-19 restrictions meaning it will fall to Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee to stand up under pressure and deliver once again with their growing connection, ability to read the space and confidence all on display in Round 1. 

Despite having a young shooting end, the Mystics have a strong defensive unit that can win ball back and propel it down the court, giving them that edge against the Magic.

Southern Steel v. Mainland Tactix
Saturday, 20 June 

In both teams’ first game of the round expect the Steel and Tactix to leave nothing to chance in order to claim their inaugural win for 2020. With aspirations to rise up the ladder the Tactix will be hoping to seriously announce themselves as a competitor this season credit to some handy pick-ups. 

The inexperienced shooting end could be a real focal point for the Steel with the Tactix boasting an impressive defensive combination in captain, Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The pair are renowned for their tenacity, desire to force turnovers and immense pressure. Watson is one of the cleanest defenders able to get around the body with ease and create tips and deflections while Fakahokotau’s more physical style often upsets the attackers providing her with chances to intercept the ball or force held balls. Throw in developing defender Sophia Fenwick and the Tactix have a wealth of options down back. The expected starting duo of McCollin and O’Sullivan will have their work cut out for them in the goal circle when it comes to creating space and putting up a high volume of shots given the intensity of the Tactix and their zone style of play. McCollin has plenty of flair and creativity with ball in hand something she will be hoping to make the most out of when delivering to O’Sullivan.

In her first game up against her old club, expect Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come out with plenty of fire in the belly. The Silver Ferns goaler and now Tactix shooter is a smooth mover, glides across the court and can hit the scoreboard with ease such is her netball smarts. Still developing her connection with goal shooter Ellie Bird who is recognised for her consistency to post, the two could prove a lot to handle for Steel duo Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood. Standing at 196cm, Bird is no easy beat in the goal circle with her long arms, strong holds and height making her a clear obstacle for the Steel to conquer inside the circle if they are any chance to win. 

With plenty of options in defence, speed through the midcourt and high quality shooters the Tactix should have the competitive edge heading into the game. 

Northern Stars v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 21 June

Sunday marks the grand final rematch between the Northern Stars and Central Pulse with the latter hoping to repeat their earlier triumphs. With a win already under their belt for season 2020 the Pulse will be out replicate their hot form of 2019 while the Stars on the other hand will be keen to put a stop to it and notch up their first victory for the season.

The Stars lost quite a couple of key players over the off-season but managed to retain the services of star goal shooter Maia Wilson. The young goaler will be their main port of call when it comes to scoring with the shooter able to slot them from anywhere and post a high number of goals. She is strong on her holds, quick on her feet and able to read the play with ease. In only their second game together the chemistry between Wilson and Jamie Hume in the goal circle will play a huge role given the depth and wealth of talent the Pulse have when it comes to defence. Boasting a defensive unit littered with stars such as Katrina Rore, Kelly Jury, versatile defender Karin Burger and youngster Elle Temu the Pulse have no shortage of options with each of them able to come on to the court and have a damaging impact. Rore and Burger are equally as impressive in the goal circle as they are out in wing defence, a clear testament to their skill and netball understanding.

Up the shooting end for the Pulse, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn are arguably one of the league’s most damaging combinations. Ekenasio has an uncanny knack to read the play and glide across the court while her ability to shoot from long range makes her incredibly hard to stop. Her connection with Dunn is second to none, with the two able to rotate through the space with ease and consistently apply scoreboard pressure. Dunn is cool, calm and composed, often using her height to her advantage and capitalising on her scoring opportunities meaning the defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Daystar Swift and Kate Burley will have to be on their a-game. Expect Swift to rely on her height to match up against Dunn and try and put doubt in the feeders mind. 

If the Stars cannot get on top of the Pulse early it will be hard for them to reel them back in given their cleanliness with ball in hand and how quickly they can score. The Pulse treasure possession and are renowned for their ability to win ball back thanks to their strong defence unit. 

Northern Stars v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 22 June

In the final game of the round both the Stars and Tactix play out their second game of the round. With the changed fixture fatigue could be a huge factor for both teams especially the Stars who played the night before. Heading into the round both teams entered with no wins but will hoping to change that story and claim some early ascendancy and bragging rights.

With a strong defence, the Tactix also have plenty of talent throughout the midcourt with a host of nippy attackers that can interchange between positions. Kimiora Poi is one of those midcourters with the 168cm player able to dart around the court, hit the circle edge with speed and great balance while also displaying her impressive vision. The likes of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury returnee Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan are also handy options in either centre or wing attack. For the Stars, they too have a young midcourt core with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather however their ace lies with captain Grace Kara. In her second game back since giving birth expect the captain to provide that calming head through the midcourt and create a wealth of attacking forays for the Stars. 

In terms of wing defence both the Stars and Tactix have developing players in Fa’amu Ioane and Charlotte Elley meaning it will depend on which wing attack can get off the leash first and cause the most damage. The likes of Swift, Purvis and Burley will have to be firing on all cylinders in their clash in order to stop the flow into the goal circle for the Tactix. The shooting unit for Mainland  is quite strong with Bird and Selby-Rickit headlining the attack  while youngster Jess Prosser is also a viable option given her forged connection with Bird from last season and ability to go to post. 

Considering it is their second game in as many days expect factors such as experience, strong connections and structures to play a huge role in this game with the Tactix possibly more poised for a win given the number of international players on their list.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 2

IN each round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. The return to netball sees two Silver Ferns at different stages in their netball career up against each other as both sides search for their first win of the 2020 ANZ Premiership season.

SOUTHERN STEEL v. MAINLAND TACTIX

Shannon Saunders (C) v. Kimiora Poi (C)

Doubling as a pharmacist throughout lockdown, Shannon Saunders will be keen to get back out on court and do what she does best while speedster Kimiora Poi will be hoping to further solidify her on-court connections. Despite playing in the same position they both attack the role differently with Poi using her speed and Saunders her tactical mind to have an impact on the play.

Surrounded by a young team especially in the attacking end, Saunders will have to carry a heavy load to create any type of forays and deliver into the circle. The 178cm midcourter is renowned for her two-way running able to get back and help out in defence and then slingshot into attack thanks to her read of the play and speed off the mark. She is strong around circle edge, hardly ever outmuscled and relies on her quick footwork to attain prime position in the attacking third. While she can be more defensively minded, often looking to shut down space through the midcourt and apply hands over pressure, Saunders can also deliver in attack with her impressive vision and variety of passes. Her connection with fellow midcourter Gina Crampton also gives her an upper hand with the two able to rotate through the space seamlessly and know each other’s thought pattern and game play before it happens. 

At 22, Poi has already well and truly made a name for herself with the zippy midcourter able to dart around the court and cause all sorts of havoc with her speed off the mark. She can take the ball at full speed, control it and then pass it off, such is her control and balance. Her ability to twinkle-toe around the circle edge and use her speed to evade opponents makes her an integral part of the Tactix line-up. Alongside the likes of returnee Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan, Poi is surrounded by a wealth of A-class talent and experience. The 169cm centre court player makes up for her short stature with her play making abilities and drive. Able to play both an attacking and defensive role, Poi can shake up her game accordingly and deliver depending on what the team needs with her hands over pressure and read of the play. 

It will be an intriguing battle with Poi at the beginning of her netball and international career while Saunders on the other hand is doused in experience. If Saunders can stop or at least limit Poi’s drive through the midcourt it will go a long way in giving the Steel that competitive edge and put them in good stead. However, if Poi can exploit Saunders with her speed and keep her guessing then she might be able to outrun the experienced Steel midcourter.

Mainland Tactix: What has changed?

THE ANZ Premiership returns this week after an enforced hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The break has done wonders for some teams allowing them to iron out issues and give time for players to focus on recovery. However some teams return to the season a little different than how they entered the 2020 season. Draft Central takes a look back at the Round 1 action, 2019 season and what has changed over the last couple of months. 

Coach: Julie Seymour
Captain: Jane Watson
2019 finish: 5th

Overview:
Although they did not get the intended win in Round 1 the Tactix will be hoping to quickly jump on the winners list in season 2020 and climb up the ladder. With a wealth of talent across the court there is no denying that Mainland Tactix have the ability to challenge teams and be a real threat to be reckoned with throughout the season, given their explosiveness in both defence and attack. With speed to boot through the midcourt, the Tactix are firming up to be a strong contender this year. 

Changes:
There are no real changes to the team since Round 1 with all of the players raring to go given the unforeseen break. In her first season back after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury the extended break could work wonders for midcourter Erikana Pedersen who will be eager to pick up where she left off from the season opener. She will be a key cog through the midcourt for Mainland with her ability to hit the circle edge, vision into the circle and ball placement. The break has also played into the hands of goaler Te Paea Selby-Rickit with the shooter admitting to an Achilles niggle at the start of the season. The break has allowed Selby-Rickit to manage her workload and focus on her recovery to ensure she is raring to go ahead of the season restart.  

Looking ahead:
The Tactix have one of the strongest defensive units headlined by captain Jane Watson and the recovering Temalisi Fakahokotau. Both have proven that they have the ability to turn a game on its head with their defensive pressure and intercepting ability. Watson is clean at the contest while Fakahokotau has that competitive white line mentality. Through the midcourt the Tactix ooze speed and dynamic movement with Kimiora Poi, Pedersen and Samon Nathan all able to rotate through centre and wing attack such is their prowess, quick hands and impressive vision to deliver inside the circle with ease making them a very cohesive and interchangeable unit. 

Key player:
Newcomer, Selby-Rickit will be excited to once again take the court and showcase her talent. The goal attack is a smooth mover that knows how to attack the ball, control the flow in the attacking third and dictate the space with her precise movement. She is not afraid to go to post and offers plenty of composure inside the circle backing herself from range and constantly re-offering. Her quick footwork, impressive vision and play making ability is second to none, providing that spark in attack.

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Tactix, Stars and Steel search for first win

ROUND 2 of the ANZ Premiership will see three teams looking for their first win while the others will be hoping to make it two straight.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 22 March
Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland

The Northern Mystics are coming off a narrow win, while the Tactix on the other hand will be hoping to notch up their first win of the season. The Tactix had a strong quarter and will want to build on that if they are to get over the line against a strong Mystics team that have plenty of firepower. But it will be a very tight battle given just how similar both sides are when it comes to game style and strengths.

The home side have arguably one of the strongest defence units in the competition thanks to the edition of Sulu Fitzpatrick and will be hoping to capitalise against a developing Tactix shooting combination. The battle between Fitzpatrick and goal shooter Ellie Bird will bring plenty of interest with Bird renowned for her holding style of game, something that Fitzpatrick is more than capable of disrupting given her aerial ability and hunt for the ball. Phoenix Karaka has also been in hot form, even if it is only after one round. The goal defence is strong in the air and at ground level able to track the ball and force timely turnovers with her long arms and speed. Her connection with Fitzpatrick will go a long way in stopping Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit who is still finding her feet in her new colours. Through the midcourt the combination of Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan must stand up if the Tactix are any chance to win, as opposing wing attack Peta Toeava is deadly on the feed, able to quickly turn and deliver pin-point precision passes.

Defensively the Tactix are also strong with captain, Jane Watson the real barometer for the side. Watson is in a league of her own able to make something out of nothing with her quick feet and vision. Her partnership with Temalisi Fakahokotau will only develop as time goes on with the two able to cause havoc down back with their ball winning abilities and high netball IQ. However, they will have their work cut out for them up against teenage prodigy Grace Nweke who currently sits first for goals credit to her ability to score from anywhere and do accurately. If they can shut down Nweke the likes of Bailey Mes if available, Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes will have to stand up to help shoulder the load under the post.

In the end, it will be a battle of the defence ends with both sides boasting a plethora of game changers.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 22 March
TSB Bank Arena, Wellington

Coming off a win and their first home game despite it not being in front of a crowd the Central Pulse will be hoping to make it two on the trot and repeat the lengthy undefeated streak of last year. Meanwhile, the Southern Steel will be wanting to right the wrongs of last week and notch up their first win of the year.

With very limited change over the off-season the Pulse have one of the most formidable outfits in the competition headlined by their defensive unit. The trio of Katrina Rore, Karin Burger and Kelly Jury is one simply cannot resist. Both Rore and Burger can swap out to wing defence giving the Pulse that added bit of pressure and defensive prowess across the court making life hard for the likes of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders who like to zip around the circle edge. While Crampton and Saunders have speed to boot if the Pulse defenders can shut down their avenue to goal and block their vision they will be able to gain the upper hand. Inside the circle, expect Jury to have an impact with her long lean over the shot and ability to contest the high ball especially up against the likes of Jennifer O’Connell. The Steel goal shooter will need further assistance from the likes of recruit Kalifa McCollin and youngster Georgia Heffernan to put up a damaging score and keep their respective defender busy.

The Pulse also boast a tried and tested duo in the goal circle with Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio one of the competitions strongest connections. They know each others game inside out able to dish off perfectly weighted passes and able to back themselves when inside the circle. While Dunn is the more prominent shooter, Ekenasio’s work out the front is what makes them such a dynamic team meaning the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita will have to be on their a-game. If Fifita can win ball back like she did last round and receive support from the likes of Kate Heffernan and Abby Erwood it will go a long way in shutting the Pulse down.

However, given the strength and class across the court the Pulse should get the job done against a rebuilding Steel team.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Monday, 23 March
Trustpower Arena, Tauranga

In a clash of second verse fourth expect plenty of action, with the Stars hoping to topple the Magic and claim their first win of 2020. The Stars underwent a massive change over the off-season and are still searching for that winning combination while the Magic seemed to have found their groove. Both sides have a couple of young, up and coming players that will be hoping to make an impact.

The Magic’s strength lies within their midcourt with newcomer Whitney Souness already lighting the court up with her dynamic movement and impressive vision. Souness has quickly become a key cog in the attacking third, not afraid to release the ball from distance and back herself while her connection with centre Ariana Cable-Dixon is steadily developing. The versatility of Sam Winders able to move between centre and wing defence given her defensive attributes is pivotal to the Magic’s success. But Winders will have to pull out all the stops against experienced campaigner Grace Kara to stop the wing attack from having an influence. Kara is cool, calm and collected able to think her way through scenarios and deliver well executed passes into the circle. Fellow midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather will also have to be on high alert. Stars, wing defence Fa’amu Ioane will be hoping to continue her ball winning ways after starring last round with a couple of timely intercepts.

With a relatively new defensive line-up with Daystar Swift and Kate Burley at the helm the Magic shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou will be hoping to capitalise. McPhee has shown that she can be explosive under the post able to post high numbers and relatively accurate. On the other hand, Maia Wilson is one of the highest scoring goalers in the competition able to find the net with ease and use her clever body positioning and strong holds to edge herself closer to the post. If she can have a big influence and Jamie Hume can chip in on the scoreboard then it will be hard work for Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler. In only her second game for the club, Mikaere will be wanting to cause mayhem with her reach and speed making the goal circle match-up an exciting one.

The game could really go either way seeing just how evenly poised both teams are but it could be argued that the Magic have a little bit more depth and that could be the edge they need.

Pulse pick up where they left off with strong win over Tactix

WITH a new look line-up, the Tactix showed that they meant business racing out of the blocks before reigning premiers, Central Pulse highlighted why they should be considered a threat once again in 2020 taking out a 12-goal win, 53-41. Central regained control after the first quarter relying on their strong connections and signature ball movement to dice through their opposition while the Tactix tinkered with their starting seven to find the winning combination.

The Mainland Tactix got out to a slim lead in the opening quarter with the new combination of Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit seeming to work wonders under the post. Bird was unfazed by the Pulse’s defensive pressure rising to the occasion time and time again and using her height to full effect. The goal shooter led the way in the goal circle with seven goals from eight attempts while Selby-Rickit was also accurate to post only missing the one goal for the quarter. Their movement in the circle was impressive with the two opening up space and using their varying styles to keep the defenders busy. The midcourt service from the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi was key to their early success with the latter taking full control in the centre. Poi found plenty of space and hit the circle edge with precision to feed into both Bird and Selby-Rickit with a team-high five goal assists for the term. While she impressed, her opposing centre Claire Kersten shone bright for the Pulse using her drive and strength to receive the ball and have an impact across the court with the two going toe-to-toe throughout the term.

The one goal difference quickly evaporated by the end of the second quarter with both sides heading into half time with 22 goals apiece credit to the high intensity game. Central Pulse only made one change in the second with Elle Temu coming on in goal keeper. Temu had an immediate impact down back with her ball winning ability and physicality picking up one gain and three deflections. Up the other end, Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio increased their load and accuracy to get back to level pegging’s. Dunn was solid as ever under the post using her quick feet, spatial awareness and strong holding ability to make the most of her opportunities shooting at 100 per cent with eight goals. Although Ekenasio was not as damaging under the post her playmaking abilities out the front once again proved to be the key with three goal assists.

The third term was the real turning point for the reigning premiers with Pulse well and truly putting their foot down. The 16 goals to nine quarter showcased just how explosive they can be working their way down the court with ease and most importantly finding their groove in defence. The defensive trio of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury seemed to be the wall down back they needed simply repelling any ball that came their way. Rore’s drive through the midcourt was impressive receiving her fair share of centre passes and creating a wealth of forward thrusts to spur her side on. The experienced captain also showcased her defensive tendencies with a gain and rebound while Burger impressed in wing defence using her long arms and deceptive speed to record a gain and an intercept in that term alone. While the Pulse defensive unit upped their ante, so did the Tactix with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau combining to win a wealth of ball back with three gains, two intercepts and five deflections however it was not enough to quell the influence of Dunn and Ekenasio under the post.

With one quarter left to play, the Pulse did not muck around making light work of their opponents with a 15 goals to 10 quarter. Mainland worked tirelessly to wear down the visiting side but they simply could not stop the Pulse who looked in control in every aspect across the court. Wing attack Maddy Gordon continued her strong form in the attacking third while Kersten kicked it up a gear with a timely intercept and a gain. With Gordon having such a strong influence Charlotte Elley struggled to prevent her from hitting the circle edge. In hope to find a spark inside the attacking third for the Tactix Samon Nathan played a full quarter using her speed and quick hands to work the ball around but it was little too late with the game all but won.

Dunn was the most prolific shooter on the day walking away with 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent accuracy while her partner in crime, Ekenasio managed 18 goals from 22 shots. On the other hand, Bird inflicted the most scoreboard pain with 26 goals from 29 attempts with recruit Selby-Rickit struggling for accuracy sitting at 68 per cent thanks to her 15 goals from 22.

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 1 – Tactix to host reigning premiers

THE long awaited ANZ Premiership season is set to commence on Sunday with the reigning premiers traveling to Blenheim Stadium in hope to kick their season off in style while the Northern Stars and Southern Steel will play host to their opponents in the opening round of the season.

Mainland Tactix v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 15 March

The opening game of the round will kick off in style with the new and improved Mainland Tactix hoping to assert their dominance from the first centre pass against the reigning premiers. Pulse have remained pretty much the same bar one major change to the list while the Tactix have welcomed the return of a couple of injured players and recruited players to fill glaringly obvious holes in their line-up.

Through the midcourt Kimiora Poi will cause headaches with her dynamic movement, speed and ability to consistently hit circle edge. Poi along with Samon Nathan proved to be a handy duo while the return of Erikana Pederson will give the Tactix another option in the middle third. But all eyes will turn to the defensive circle with the much awaited return of Temalisi Fakahokotau. The exciting goal keeper is renowned for her defensive pressure, physicality and read of the play. Her partnership with Jane Watson is set to be a force to reckoned with, given Watson’s deceptive speed, long reach and cleanliness to stay in play. But they will be up against some a-grade talent in the goal circle with both Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn looking to pick up where they left off. The two goalers are highly impressive under the post, sharing the load and creating space with their clever movement making them a tough task for the new Tactix combination.

Fresh off a premiership expect the Pulse to continue their hot form and make full use of their pre-existing connections down the court and star power. While Sulu Fitzpatrick has departed the club the inclusion of Kelly Jury could spell struggle street for the Tactix’s shooters. Jury is a commanding figure in the circle and standing at 192cm you can see why. Her ability to rebound with ease and disrupt the attacking flow with her lean is second to none, throw in the likes of Karin Burger and Katrina Rore and the Pulse have one of the most formidable defensive units in the competition, able to stifle opposition attack ends with their immense pressure. But in her first official outing as a Tactix’ player expect goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit to take it to the likes of Rore and Burger and have a huge influence. Her calmness, netball nous and experience will pay dividends down in the attack end but most importantly she will be able to share to the shooting load with Ellie Bird to create a two-pronged attack. Bird was a lone hand at times last season and will once again be a key cog in the goal circle with her commanding height, long reach and accuracy to post.

It will be a high intensity game filled with plenty of skill given the calibre of players taking the court for their respective sides but in the end the Pulse should get the win thanks to their strong connections and firepower.

Northern Stars v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 15 March

After falling short in the big dance the Stars will be looking to make amends in the opening round of the season but will have to do so with a very different line-up compared to last season while the Mystics will be hoping to build on their inconsistent form.

Spearheaded by youngster Grace Nweke the future looks bright for the Mystics. She can quite literally turn a game on its head with her athleticism, silky movement and ability to change up her game style according to her sides’ needs. Nweke came along in leaps and bounds last year with her high volume and strong hands making her one to watch for the Stars. With the likes of both Kayla Cullen and Leana de Bruin no longer at the club for varying reasons expect Storm Purvis to lead the charge. Although she is not the flashiest player it is her consistency and nagging style of defence that gives her an edge something she will have to draw upon to upset Nweke. Given the inexperienced defensive unit with Kate Burley and newcomer Daystar Swift, expect the experience and class of Mystics shooter Bailey Mes to play a significant role.

The midcourt battle will be one of youth with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan impressing last season with her drives and clever timing for the Stars while Peta Toeava will be wanting to have a profound impact. With the inclusion of premiership player, Fitzpatrick her influence down back could be a game changer for the Mystics. Her combination with Phoenix Karaka will create plenty of excitement for fans given their attacking mentality making it hard work for Maia Wilson. The Stars goal shooter will more than likely be the main scoring avenue credit to her strong holds, aerial ability and accuracy while Jamie Hume will have to increase her output if the duo are to worry their opposition.

With key new inclusions and a good mix of young up and coming players along with experienced campaigners the Mystics are favourites heading into the clash despite the Stars convincing tail end of the 2019 season.

Southern Steel v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 16 March

In the final game of the round the Southern Steel and Waikato Bay of Magic face off for their first lot of points. The Steel had a solid season last year finishing second but bundled out in straight sets a feat they will not be hoping to repeat. On the other hand, the Magic found spurts of form but struggled to maintain it to become a real threat throughout the season. But it is a new season and both sides have plenty to play for and despite a couple of personnel changes should make for a hard-fought contest.

With no Te Paea Selby-Rickit the Steel have brought in Trinidad and Tobago goal attack Kalifa McCollin. She is a relatively unknown quantity that will offer a wealth of speed in the attacking third with her precise movement, good vision and most importantly desire to go to post. It may take time for her connection with goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell to develop but if the two can find a way they could be hard to stop. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is also a handy option inside the circle with her height and high netball IQ but is still developing an element Magic defenders in Erena Mikaere, Jenna O’Sullivan and Holly Fowler will be hoping to capitalise. In her first game for her new cub Mikaere will be seeking to shut down the towering goal shooter and impose herself with her intercepting ability.

Although the Magic have a relatively inexperienced shooting end with Abigail Latu-Meafou and Georgia Marshall along with Kelsey McPhee they generate plenty of excitement. Defensively if the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood shut down McPhee it will go a long way in setting Steel up for the win. With stars either end the real battle will unfold through the midcourt with Magic’s Whitney Souness and Sam Winders the key cogs. The two have differing styles but will have to work together to create opportunities for their side. Souness is renowned for her speed, attacking flair and creativity with ball in hand while Winders is more tailored to the defensive style of the game. For the Steel, they have arguably one of the best midcourt duos in the competition with Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders. The two know each others game inside out, able to slot into the space and deliver well weighted passes into the circle making for an enthralling battle.

The win could go either way such is the evenness of the match but given the Steels experience they should do just enough to claim their first win.

ANZ Premiership: 2020 team preview – Mainland Tactix

WITH the ANZ Premiership season just around the corner, we take a look at each teams chances heading into the year and a key player to keep an eye on. The next instalment is the Mainland Taxtic.

Coach: Julie Seymour
Captain: Jane Watson
2019 finish: 5th

Last year was not the Tactix’s year with the side unable to build any momentum and place pressure on the top echelon of teams. Despite moments of competitiveness, the Tactix only managed five wins and clocked up 10 losses. They struggled to generate any real scoring power and were missing that edge defensively but they will be hoping that all changes this season with some key recruits welcomed into the side and the return of a couple injured stars.

2020 predictions/expectations:

The Tactix have well and truly bolstered their line-up over the off-season with former Southern Steel goaler Te Paea Selby-Rickit joining the ranks. Selby-Rickit will add a wealth of depth down in the attacking circle with her precise movement and accuracy to post. Her combination with Ellie Bird will be one to watch with Bird able to hold strong in the circle and use her height to command the ball. Defensively the Tactix have one of the most exciting and damaging defensive duos with Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson. The two are renowned for their ability to hunt the ball and create turnovers and with Fakahokotau returning from injury expect big things given her physical nature. Through the midcourt Kimiora Poi has taken her game to another level with the speedy centre able to use her give and go around the circle edge to do damage while her vision into the circle is highly impressive. Samon Nathan is also a handy option through the midcourt with her defensive pressure while Erikana Pederson is set to make her long awaited return after suffering a season ending injury last year helping to further enhance their midcourt stocks.

Key player/pick up: Jane Watson

The Silver Ferns defender and Tactix captain is a wall in defence with her ability to confuse the space and simply swat balls away. Her timing is impeccable while her long reach disrupts the flow of opposition attack ends. She is deceptively quick on her feet able to get hands to ball and propel the ball back down the court. Watson can sense the moment and have an impact while she can also switch between goal keeper and goal defence seamlessly thanks to her high netball IQ and endurance.

Team list:

Ellie Bird
Charlotte Elley
Temalisi Fakahokotau
Sophia Fenwick
Samon Nathan
Erikana Pedersen
Kimiora Poi
Jess Prosser
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Jane Watson